Media Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:
There is indeed much more that can be done by the Government, the media and community as a whole to address mental health issues within the society especially during this pandemic as it is an important move towards tackling factors that could contribute to an increase in suicide cases in our country.
There is undoubtedly a need for better empathy and education surrounding the issue in order to help even our family members, loved ones, friends or colleagues.
Our suicide rates are still far too high. According to WHO, more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year. That’s one suicide committed every 40 seconds. And for each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts.
Many may not realize, but suicides and suicide attempts do not just end with the individual. It has a ripple effect that impacts families, friends, colleagues, neighbours, communities, and societies.
In Malaysia, police statistics showed that from 2019 to july 2021, suicide rates are now much higher. There were total of 638 suicides recorded in the first 7 months of 2021, as compared to a total of 262 cases for same period last year, this is a staggering 143% increase in cases. It has even surpassed the total number of cases reported in year 2020, which is 631 and 609 in 2019.
On average, two suicide cases were reported every day in Malaysia between 2019 to May 2021. While COVID-19 cases grew in number, we cannot deny that the pandemic has played a part in the rising number of suicide cases as people struggle with job insecurity, isolation, loneliness, as well as mental health concerns.
A recent study that was release revealed the increase of suicide ideation (thought of committing suicide) by 10.81%, attempted suicide by 4.68% and self-harm by 9.68% during the Covid-19 pandemic in comparison no pre-pandemic days.
And for every one of those deaths, it is estimated that 135 family members and friends will suffer the impact whether emotionally or socio-economically.
Therefore, now is the time for us to take more action and make it clear that it is OK to talk about suicide.
That is why, in line with this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day’s theme, of “Creating Hopes through Actions’ I would like to suggest certain steps we all can take including the government to holistically address this issue.
(1) Decriminalise attempted suicide. They need all the support and help, not to be treated like a criminal or be thrown in jail, which may exacerbate the problem
(2) The media play an important role to have greater consistency and ethics in how they report the serious issue of suicide. There must be a roundtable session with our nation’s media executives, mental health representatives and clinicians to develop and enforce a set of media guidelines for reporting on suicide is a conversation.
(3) The public and social media pages must be responsible not to circulate videos or pictures of suicide or attempts as it may trigger “copy-cats” and create more harm to those going through a tough time
(4) Each of us can learn how to recognise early symptoms of possible suicide. From there we take the extra step to call our loved ones, our friends and neighbours and ask them how are they during this tough period?
(5) How to assist them in getting professional help and connect them with services that can help with their situation
Remember the 3 “E”s when dealing with such situation.
“Engage, Empathise and Encourage”
Let us remember, each and every one of us play a role in suicide prevention. Suicide is preventable. We just need to pay attention and be empathetic and kinder to those in need
Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching